The following is a statement from International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM) International President Tom Buffenbarger regarding terms of the secretly negotiated Trans-Pacific Partnership:
“As a labor union whose members build products that are exported all over the world, the IAM has always taken a strong interest in the development and growth of international trade. We know firsthand that trade done right will improve living standards and strengthen our economy to the benefit of all Americans. Unfortunately, the recently concluded Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) represents a new low in corporate dominance of our nation’s trade agenda. Despite the rhetoric, this deal represents a step backward in efforts to achieve effective labor standards and human rights.
Negotiated in secret by and for multinational corporations that have no allegiance to any flag or country, the TPP will facilitate the export of American jobs to countries like Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Mexico which lack fundamental labor rights, some of which even engage in slave labor. Reports of a secret side agreement with Vietnam are especially offensive to anyone who takes internationally recognized labor standards seriously.
Earlier this year, Congress passed Fast Track legislation that laid out an ambitious set of negotiating goals that we, and others, warned were completely unenforceable. Reports indicate that we were correct in our assumption about the congressional negotiating goals; the U.S. Trade Representative simply ignored them. Although the agreement has not been made public yet, these reports indicate that, substandard labor standards remain weak and ineffective, currency manipulation has not been effectively addressed, rules of origin for autos are greatly weakened, access to affordable medicines is reduced, post Great Recession financial regulations were made less effective, and secret non-governmental tribunals will interpret and enforce the agreement.
As job and income growth continue to stagnate, Americans know that the economic system is rigged against them and the TPP is just the latest example. Congress must put the American people first and reject this deeply flawed trade agreement.”
IAM members from varying generations and backgrounds took part in a panel explaining what drove them to become activists. From left: Retiree Mike Edwards, Local 2339O Recording Secretary Monica Pasillas, Local 2323 Vice President Dan Janssen, Retiree Carline Lang-Smith, and Grand Lodge Auditor Porfirio “Josh” Diaz.
We came to change the world. We did.
More than 450 IAM activists – hailing from all corners of the U.S. and Canada and representing a diverse array of industries, viewpoints and demographic groups – came together in San Juan, Puerto Rico for the 2015 IAM Women’s, Young Workers and Human Rights Conference, dubbed #IAMRight15 on social media.
We’re more diverse than ever. That’s a good thing.
Times are changing – and the IAM is changing with it. Conferences like this, which touched on issues from transgender rights to mass incarceration to immigration reform, simply didn’t happen in the labor movement as recently as 10 years ago. We must continue to expand our movement if the IAM wants to thrive for another 127 years.
This is an international movement. We need to think globally.
Multi-national corporations spread their nets far and wide to exploit and divide the world’s workers. The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is living proof. It’s up to us to unite together for a global economic system that works for all of us, not just the richest and most powerful 1 percent.
The IAM has young workers ready to lead.
Young workers took center stage, literally, at #IAMRight15. From a young worker leading the charge for a $15 minimum wage at Toronto’s Pearson Airport to young organizers helping to run some of the IAM’s largest and most important campaigns, the future is now for the next generation of IAM activists.
We can change the world. Really.
We already have. Our mere presence represents a new wave of activism ready to fight for a more fair and just world. Let’s continue making history.
California Gov. Jerry Brown on Sunday signed into law a bill holding the state’s employers legally responsible for wage and safety violations committed by their subcontractors and temp agencies.
With the new law, California will have some of the country’s farthest-reaching protections for temporary workers, among the fastest growing and most vulnerable segments of the workforce.
The legislation was introduced this year after a series of stories by ProPublica documented abuses and dangers faced by legions of blue-collar temp workers, California labor officials said. It was overwhelmingly supported by lawmakers.
The growing reliance on temp work in recent years has led to complaints from workers nationwide who say they’ve been cheated on wages or ordered to work in unsafe situations. But their complaints had little impact as temp agencies blamed the companies that hired them and those companies, in turn, faulted the agencies [Continue Reading]
Public sector workers rallying in solidarity with Wisconsin workers outside Los Angeles City Hall (AP Photo/Jason Redmond)
For years, the American labor movement has been on the defensive as it has become harder and harder for workers to join or maintain a union. But some House Democrats are planning a dramatic counter-offensive: a bill that would make union organizing a civil right.
Representatives Keith Ellison and John Lewis plan to introduce a bill Wednesday that would make labor organizing a basic freedom no different than freedom from racial discrimination. That sounds like a nice talking point—but this isn’t just another messaging bill.
The Ellison-Lewis legislation would amend the National Labor Relations Act to include protections found under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act to include labor organizing as a fundamental right. That would give workers a broader range of legal options if they feel discriminated against for trying to form a union. [Continue Reading]
The Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order will govern new federal procurement contracts valued at more than $500,000, providing information on companies’ compliance with federal labor laws for agencies. We expect the Executive Order to be implemented on new contracts in stages, on a prioritized basis, during 2016. The Department of Labor estimates that there are roughly 24,000 businesses with federal contracts, employing about 28 million workers.
1. Hold Corporations Accountable: Under the terms of the Executive Order, agencies will require prospective contractors to disclose labor law violations from the past three years before they can get a contract. The 14 covered Federal statutes and equivalent state laws include those addressing wage and hour, safety and health, collective bargaining, family and medical leave, and civil rights protections. Agencies will also require contractors to collect similar information from many of their subcontractors.
2. Crack Down on Repeat Violators: Contracting officers will take into account only the most egregious violations, and each agency will designate a senior official as a Labor Compliance Advisor to provide consistent guidance on whether contractors’ actions rise to the level of a lack of integrity or business ethics. This advisor will support individual contracting officers in reviewing disclosures and consult with the Department of Labor. The Executive Order will ensure that the worst actors, who repeatedly violate the rights of their workers and put them in danger, don’t get contracts and thus can’t delay important projects and waste taxpayer money.
3. Promote Efficient Federal Contracting: Federal agencies risk poor performance by awarding contracts to companies with a history of labor law violations. In 2010, the Government Accountability Office issued a report finding that almost two-thirds of the 50 largest wage-and-hour violations and almost 40 percent of the 50 largest workplace health-and-safety penalties issued between FY 2005 and FY 2009 were at companies that went on to receive new government contracts. Last year, Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Chairman Tom Harkin issued a report revealing that dozens of contractors with significant health, safety, and wage and hour violations were continuing to be awarded federal contacts. Another study detailed that 28 of the companies with the top workplace violations from FY 2005 to FY 2009 subsequently received federal contracts, and a quarter of those companies eventually had significant performance problems as well—suggesting a strong relationship between contractors with a history of labor law violations and those that cannot deliver adequate performance for the taxpayer dollars they receive. Because the companies with workplace violations are more likely to encounter performance problems, today’s action will also improve the efficiency of federal contracting and result in greater returns on federal tax dollars.
4. Protect Responsible Contractors: The vast majority of federal contractors have clean records. The Department of Labor estimates that the overwhelming majority of companies with federal contracts have no federal workplace violations in the past three years. Contractors who invest in their workers’ safety and maintain a fair and equitable workplace shouldn’t have to compete with contractors who offer low-ball bids—based on savings from skirting the law—and then ultimately deliver poorer performance to taxpayers. The Executive Order builds on the existing procurement system, so it will be familiar to contractors and will fit into established contracting practices. Responsible businesses will check a single box on a bid form indicating that they don’t have a history of labor law violations. The Federal contracting community and other interested parties will be invited to participate in listening sessions with OMB, DOL, and senior White House officials to share views on how to ensure implementing policies and practices are both fair and effective. DOL and other enforcement agencies along with the Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council will consider this input as they draft regulations and guidance, which will be published for public comment before being finalized.
5. Focus on Helping Companies Improve: The goal of the process created by the Executive Order is to help more contractors come into compliance with workplace protections, not to deny contracts to contractors. Companies with labor law violations will be offered the opportunity to receive early guidance on whether those violations are potentially problematic and remedy any problems. Contracting officers will take these steps into account before awarding a contract and ensure the contractor is living up to the terms of its agreement.
6. Give Employees a Day in Court: The Executive Order directs companies with federal contracts of $1 million or more not to require their employees to enter into predispute arbitration agreements for disputes arising out of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act or from torts related to sexual assault or harassment (except when valid contracts already exist). This builds on a policy already passed by Congress and successfully implemented at the Department of Defense, the largest federal contracting agency, and will help improve contractors’ compliance with labor laws.
7. Give Employees Information About their Paychecks: As a normal part of doing business, most employers give their workers a pay stub with basic information about their hours and wages. To be sure that all workers get this basic information, the Executive Order requires contractors to give their employees information concerning their hours worked, overtime hours, pay, and any additions to or deductions made from their pay, so workers can be sure they’re getting paid what they’re owed.
8. Streamline Implementation and Overall Contractor Reporting: The Executive Order directs the General Services Administration to develop a single website for contractors to meet their reporting requirements—for this order and for other contractor reporting. Contractors will only have to provide information to one location, even if they hold multiple contracts across different agencies. The desire to “report once in one place” is a key theme in the feedback received from current and potential contractors. This step is one in a series of actions to make the federal marketplace more attractive to the best contractors, more accessible to small businesses and other new entrants, and more affordable to taxpayers.
WASHINGTON — U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez today announces a grant competition that will award an estimated 24 or more Homeless Veteran Reintegration Program grants totaling approximately $6 million to provide an estimated 2,000 veterans with occupational, classroom and on-the-job training, as well as job search and placement assistance, to help them succeed in the civilian labor market.
“Every day, our service members — and their families — make tremendous sacrifices for their country. Yet too many veterans are homeless,” said Secretary Perez. “The programs funded through this grant will work to help homeless veterans find good jobs and provide them with opportunities for a brighter future.” [CONTINUE READING]
Protecting whistleblowers is a big job. The Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has been tasked by Congress to enforce the whistleblower provisions of 22 statutes. These laws protect workers in many industries across the nation who are brave enough to speak up when they see hazards, fraud or something that could endanger the public. Since 2009, the number of new whistleblower cases filed per year has grown by 37 percent. The president’s budget request for fiscal year 2015 provides needed resources for this growing workload.
One focus in the whistleblower program is making sure employees don’t get fired or retaliated against for reporting injuries. Recently, the Department of Labor filed a first-of-its-kind lawsuit against AT&T on behalf of 13 injured workers who were suspended without pay for allegedly violating a corporate safety standard. But an investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration uncovered a different story. Prompted by complaints from several employees, our investigation found that the company was punishing workers for reporting injuries – which is against the law. [Continue Reading this article]
Soon, government-issued uniforms for federal workers may no longer don clothing tags imprinted with the words “Made in China.”
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) has introduced a bill that would require the federal government to only buy apparel that is 100 percent made in America.
Brown says the Wear American Act is imperative for a number of reasons. First, shifting production back to the U.S. would boost manufacturing and prevent the nation’s trade deficit from expanding.
Second, it’s an economic stimulus. The federal government currently spends approximately $1.5 billion a year on federal employee uniforms made overseas.
It’s also about worker rights and safety, says the Senator, who explains that the bill allows for waivers in such cases where the items cannot be domestically-sourced, but the government will only be allowed to do business with contractors in compliance with labor, safety and child labor laws.
“It’s bad enough it’s not made by American workers,” said Brown. “It’s five times worse if it’s made by workers who often are children and not treated well. That’s shameful, and that’s the first thing we fix.”
Under current law, 51 percent of federal workers’ apparel must come from U.S. manufacturers. There has been serious concern by the labor movement about the failure and the lack of oversight of the federal government in reaching that benchmark.
Brown says under the bill, federal contractors will be required to disclose the locations of their factories and working conditions to the General Services Administration. Source: Machinist News Network